Here we are, eleven parts in, and now you finally get to see some zombie action, and I hope to God I don't disappoint.
I have to admit, I have found myself trying to go back and make this chapter 'better'. But then that flies in the face of everything that is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The point is to just get it all out there on paper and don't go back to revise until the book is finished.
And yet, I've been really nervous about putting this chapter out there for everyone to see because I know it can be so much better. But I have to get over that. I have to push past it and move on.
So here you go. In all its slipshod glory.
And hey, how are you liking the story so far? I know this is just a lose first draft, but still, I'd like to hear from you.
Anyway, it is zombie time!
Don watched in confusion as Tracy dropped everything she was carrying and turned to run. Unfortunately for Tracy, she was too late. The landscaper was too close now. He reached out and grabbed her arm before she could fully turn, and he held her fast. She struggled and she fought, but it didn’t matter. The landscaper must have had an iron grip because Tracy just couldn’t shake him off.
“Hey!” Joe yelled, flicking the wrist of his right hand, causing the blade of his knife to pop out of the handle and snap into place. “Let go of her!” Joe started walking slowly towards the two as Tracy struggled to get free, screaming and fighting. Don followed Joe.
Hey, asshole!” Joe yelled again, moving faster and brandishing the knife.
Then the landscaper did the unthinkable. As Tracy was trying to pull herself from his grasp, he bent at the waist and bit her on the arm. But not just a bite, Don realized, stopping in his tracks. The man was feeding on her.
Joe broke into a sprint as Tracy’s screaming became more shrill and her blood sprayed out from around the landscaper’s mouth. Don got himself moving, running right there behind Joe.
“I’m gonna kill you!” Joe screamed as he tackled the landscaper to the ground, pulling him off of Tracy who collapsed in a heap on the pavement.
Don went to Tracy and knelt down beside her. She lay, barely breathing, her left arm a torn and shredded mess. “Tracy!” Don yelled, giving her a small shake. No response. He felt for her pulse in her neck. It was strong, at first, but was quickly diminishing. The blood flowed freely from her arm with each beat of her heart.
“Joe,” Don called. “I’m losing her over here!”
Don heard Joe struggling with the landscaper and turned to look. What he saw would stay with him for the rest of his life. Joe was straddling the landscaper. With his left hand, Joe was fighting to hold the man's head back as the landscaper bit and snapped at him, the thing’s face awash in Tracy's blood. With his right hand, Joe was stabbing the landscaper in the side, repeatedly. Joe looked crazed, a man with nothing but bloodlust in his eyes. His lips were pulled back from his teeth, and with every thrust of the blade, Joe screamed at the landscaper beneath him. The landscaper didn’t seem to be fazed by the six inches of steel that were repeatedly being slammed into his side. He just continued to chomp the air between Joe and himself.
Then Don saw the landscaper’s eyes. The iris, the pupils, they were completely white. The eyes turned to Don for a moment, gazing at him in a predatory way that made Don shiver. Like a wolf sizing up a cow. They were the eyes of a shark and for the first time in his life, Don felt that he was no longer at the top of the food chain.
Don turned back to Tracy and found her with her eyes open, looking up at him in panic. She was trying to talk.
“No, don’t talk,” Don said. “It’s going to be okay.”
Tracy moved her lips, looking as if she was trying to say something. But nothing came out. Don held her hand. Her eyes fluttered briefly and then they closed. She had stopped moving. Don leaned in and checked her pulse again. But this time, there was nothing. Don rocked back on his knees, raking his fingers through his hair.
What was going on? He thought. It was insane. No one dies from a bit to the arm. Not that quickly. Not like this. Stuff like this didn’t happen. And then Don remembered the story of the homeless man that Mike had told them just that afternoon. Could the landscaper be the one who attacked that homeless man? It was then that Don noticed that Joe was no longer shouting curses. It was then that Don noticed that instead, Joe had begun to scream in pain and uncontrollable fear.
Don turned and saw that the landscaper was now connected to Joe by Joe’s left hand, which was in the landscaper’s mouth. But that only lasted a few seconds as Joe jerked his hand free, which came out of the landscaper’s mouth two fingers shy of a whole. Joe screamed again and jumped off of the man who was lying there chewing on Joe’s fingers.
Don jumped to his feet and moved quickly to Joe’s side. Joe was cradling his left hand to his body, walking in circles, and muttering curses. The landscaper, in the meantime, was slowly getting to his feet. Don was trying to pull Joe away, and keep an eye on the thing in the landscaping coveralls with he noticed movement in his peripherals, in the direction that Tracy lay. Don turned, still keeping one eye on the landscaper, the other on Tracy. Don gasped. It was Tracy. She was sitting up. She looked at Don and Don saw that her eyes had gone white. Shark’s eyes. Like the landscaper’s. Don realized that now was the right time to panic, and so he did just that.
“Joe, we gotta go. We gotta go!” Don took Joe by the arm and started to pull him towards the building, stopping for a moment to bend and scoop up Joe’s knife that Joe had dropped. “We gotta go!”
They moved across the lot towards the building, Tracy and the landscaper following slowly after them in a shuffling way that made Don think of movies like Night of the Living Dead. But that was crazy right? Those were movies, this is real life. Stuff like this didn’t happen in real life, Don thought. And yet, he went over what he’d just witnessed as he drug Joe across the lot. It all seemed pretty damn real to him, there was no discounting what had just happened. That thing, the landscaper, bit Tracy. Then Tracy died. Don wasn’t a doctor, but she had no pulse and she wasn’t breathing. That’s dead in Don’s book. So yeah, she died. But then she got better. But, not really better. She was up and moving, but she was like the landscaper now. Now she was a … well, Don just couldn’t bring himself to even think of the word, not now. Now he just had to get Joe inside.
But just then, Joe collapsed, taking Don down with him.
“No,” Don yelled, rolling over onto his knees and kneeling next to Joe. “Get up, Joe. Get up!” Don slapped him lightly on the cheeks a few times. But Joe wasn’t moving. In the meantime, the Tracy Thing and the landscaper were shuffling closer. “Joe! Get up!” Don felt for a pulse, but it was gone. Don bowed his head for a moment, suddenly feeling weary. Then he heard a scrap of shoes and looked up. The Tracy Thing and the landscaper were almost on top of him, separated only by Joe’s body.
Don tried to scramble up when the landscaper tripped over Joe’s body and fell on top of Don. Don brought his hands up over his face in a reflexive defensive posture as the body fell over him and something wet and sticky gushed onto his face. The landscaper shuddered for a moment, and then stopped and went slack, the full weight of his body pressing down on Don. In a panic the likes of which he’d never before experienced, Don scrambled out from under the man like he was on fire. He quickly jumped to his feet and began to back away, noticing that the landscaper no longer moved. Don also noticed that he no longer held Joe’s knife. The handle was protruding from the left eye socket of the landscaper. The thing must have fallen on the knife. So then, the something wet and sticky that was on Don’s face must be … Don quickly grabbed the bottom of his shirt and scrubbed the gore from his face, fighting to keep what little was in his stomach to stay there.
Don snatched up the knife and backed further from the still form of the landscaper. He no longer had to worry about the creature in coveralls. The Tracy Thing, on the other hand, was still coming, a dead look on her face, but her eyes, her eyes were different. Like the landscaper, there was something alive behind those eyes. They had the look of a predator, and Don decided that he didn’t want to be there anymore. So Don turned, and Don ran.
He was closer to the building then he thought he was, so a few steps later he was at the door that led in from the smoking area. Don grabbed the handle and started to pull, but nothing happened. The door wouldn’t budge.
“No!” Don shouted, shaking the door, pulling and tugging on the handle as it resisted. The door was security glass in sturdy metal frame, and Don could see the through the break room beyond. At the same time, he could see the parking lot behind him being reflected in the glass. And in the reflection he saw the Tracy Thing shuffle into the smoking area. Don tugged on the handle franticly, shaking the door back on forth in the frame.
Don was about to give up and move on, find another entrance when he remembered that he couldn’t open the door without swiping his security badge first. He laughed as he clutched the badge that hung from around the neck. He swiped his badge and with a huge sense of relief heard the door beep and the lock disengage.
Don tugged the door open, slipped into the building and slammed the door shut behind him. Or at least he tried to. All of the security doors here, and at all the GCS branches he visited, came with a hydraulic closing mechanism. One of those arms above the door that slowly shuts the door behind you. The problem with these mechanisms is that they will not allow you to slam a door shut, or even shut one quickly. You couldn’t force it. It shut at its own speed. Under normal circumstances, this wouldn’t be an issue. But considering that Don had an undead version of the nice receptionist that he had met for the first time just yesterday trying to force her way through the door behind him, only so that she could feast upon his living flesh, well … now Don was beginning to see the flaw in the design.
The door opened outwards, meaning that as Don stood inside the building, he had to reach out and try to pull the door closed while the Tracy Thing tried in vain to slip in through the space left between the open door, and Don. Don kicked and pushed at her, narrowly avoiding her snapping jaws. But finally, in the end, he managed to plant his foot on her stomach and push her away to stumble over one of the metal chairs that was bolted to the concrete. This gave the door enough time to close, and Don breathed a sigh of relief when he heard the lock engage.
The Tracy Thing, however, was back on its feet. Its body thudded against the door as it tried to walk through the glass to get to Don. It tried a few more times, thumping into the glass, smearing it with the blood that was still leaking out of her arm in a slow trickle. Don felt a surge of panic rise in him when he noticed the security badge hanging from the Tracy Thing’s neck, but soon realized that she no longer had the brain functions required to understand that she had the way into the building flopping about her chest.
Don took a moment to get his breathing under control. His heart and mind were both racing. And of course, he kept thinking about the word ‘zombie’. But those were just stories, right? Comics and movies and spooky stories created to make money? And yet, there was Tracy. Dead one minute, trying to eat him the next. If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, well then it’s gotta be a honest and genuine flesh eating zombie.
Don watched the Tracy Thing as it looked back at him. It kept bumping gently into the glass. Don was wondering how long it would stand there and do that when a hand clamped down on his shoulder and Don screamed like a little girl.
To be continued .. .